It isn’t common for D2 football players to get a shot at the professional level. Even less uncommon, is for football players of any level, to play professionally in Australia.
And while it’s not the National Football League, a pair of Slippery Rock standouts will be making the 10,277 mile trek to the land down under to play for the National Gridiron League (NGL), an organization in its inaugural year attempting to compete with the Canadian Football League (CFL) and NFL.
“Within five years, we are very confident we will be making a splash and trying to pinch some draft players,” NGL managing partner Marcin Slouch said in a press release.
QB Dante Nania and LB Teven Williams — both key members in helping Slippery Rock claim a PSAC title a season ago — are ready for the challenge, and the culture change that comes along with it.
“it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and something I really couldn’t pass up,” Nania said. “Football is giving me an opportunity to experience part of the world I probably would have never seen.”
Nania and Williams have formed a tight bond, centered around the pigskin. Before each transferred to Slippery Rock for for their senior seasons the duo played together at Youngstown State. They’ve been neighbors, roommates and friends.
“Teven is a brother to me,” Nania said. “He is going to make this transition overseas a lot easier. This will be the sixth consecutive season we’ve played football together.”
While the National Gridiron League is new, it’s not going to be filled with unskilled, washed-up players.
In just one season, Nania and Williams helped guide The Rock to a program best 12-2 record, a Pennsylvania Athletic Conference Title, a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals and a No. 7 national ranking.
Nania guided the nation’s highest scoring offense as Slippery Rock averaged 42.2 points per game. He broke the SRU single-season record for touchdown passes, finishing with 31, which ranked No. 10 in the nation. He also set Slippery Rock single-season records for competitions (250) and attempts (456).
Williams' contributions on the defensive side of the ball were equally impressive. The Rock boasted one of the best rushing defenses in the nation, and Williams was awarded first-team All-Conference honors and multiple All-Region awards.
“i never thought my talent would land me in Australia, but I can tell you that I’m excited,” Williams said.
Williams and Nania will report to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland in August to prepare for the season. They will suit up this fall as members of the North Coast Heat.
While specific details aren’t set in stone, NGL players are expected to earn a salary between $50,000 and $200,000, making it competitive with the Canadian Football League.